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Harlequin

What has Jezebel Been Drinking?

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http://io9.com/5980080/malort-the-most-disgusting-liquor-of-all-time

 

They say it is like absinthe without the fire. That without the fire and sugar, absinthe would taste bad.

 

I got to io9 from Jezebel, BTW. I don't know what to be madder at...the use of burnt sugar cubes or the writer saying absinthe tastes bad. Or the person who commented that they didn't get high off of it and "burned" the rest of a $65 bottle of Lucid, whatever that means! What a waste of money.

Edited by Harlequin

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I used to bounce around that network of sites quite a bit until I actually learned a thing or two.

 

Now even Lifehacker and Gizmodo are awful, what happened to that network?

 

Jezebel and i09 always struck me as the whiny high school kids of the group. Out to impress but can't figure out why no one cares.

 

Malort might suffer from the same thing that happened to Zwack. The Zwack coming out now tastes like a good Amaro now that the original family is back to running it, but it has a horrid reputation. I'd bet Malort has drifted away from what it used to be.

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All the Swedes on the article seem to recall having a great time enjoying (saying it's sipped with really flavorful food) and likened it to Fernet or Unicum (Zwack). It kinda made me want to try it. :shifty:

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I was under the impression (from a Hungarian cookbook I own) that Zwack is the reformulation of Unicum using the "correct" recipe, which was hidden from the Communist takeover and smuggled away to the US. There was Unicum being made in Hungary by the State, while the Zwack family gave a distillery in Italy permission to also produce Unicum. When the Zwack family was able to re-acquire the distillery, they started making the product again using the original recipe (under the name Zwack).

 

Mr. Zwack was actually the Hungarian ambassador to the US, and died in August last year.

 

Then again, it wouldn't surprise me if US Zwack and Hungarian Zwack are two different products.

 

Edit: After a little poking, it looks like the US Zwack might be a rebranded "Unicum Next", which is somewhat lighter in nature than the real deal. Either way, I tasted some at a nice bar in Boulder from the head bartender/co-owner of the bar...he seems to give out amaro for sipping when people ask for birthday drinks. It's pleasant.

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"Zwack" sold in the U.S. indeed seems to be rebranded "Unicum Next". It was developed a decade ago or two, since the "original" Unicum won't really appeal to youngsters (nor to anyone with a decent taste, I would add). I'd describe Unicum's character shortly as "pointless": bold taste and extra bitter lingering aftertaste, yet it still doesn"t deliver much character to talk about, even though I've tried and sipped a good deal of it already.

Unicum probably suffered from the Soviet socialist era (just like Hungarian drinking culture and alcohol industry in general), and it was possibly never restored to the pre-war original. Zwack's (i.e. the company's) other brands in Hungary are not unlike La Fée absinthe: fancy bottles, boosted prices, aggressive marketing, and the drinks themselves are often not even the real deal, but cold mixed imitations (of brandy, rum, fruit brandy, etc.)
Unicum Next is not that bad indeed.

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I have a nifty cocktail recipe featuring Zwack:

 

RASCAL

 

1.5 oz Rye

1.5 oz Zwack

2 dashes orange bitters

 

Stir with ice, strain into chilled glass. Garnish with orange twist. :arrr:

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I've been out of the loop here for quite a while; I just happened to stop into a liquor store today to look for new additions to their absinthe stock, and saw a bottle of Letherbee Malort. Totally new to me, but I have tried their oak-aged absinthe, so of course I had to buy it (about $35 for a liter).

I was surprised I had never heard of it, since it's obviously a "cousin" of absinthe. Not really a lot of information out there, other than its Swedish origin and Chicago-centric popularity in the US.

It does look, smell, and taste similar to some of the more pedestrian absinthes. Fair louche effect with cold water, very bitter aftertaste, less herbal complexity. I rarely sugar absinthe, but the malort definitely benefitted from added sweetness. Interesting, but I'll have to experiment to find the most palatable use for this liquor.

(BTW, just realized this thread is from February 2013, NOT 2014...guess I have been waaay out of the loop)

Edited by sardonix

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